Tuesday, August 29, 2006

For eyes to see

Do you think, perhaps, that heaven really is here right now? I mean, we seem to think of heaven as some sort of upper sphere of the cosmos, separated from the terra firma like layers on a cake. This is not without warrant; Revelation 21:3 says that "I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God." But doesn't it seem rather Manichean or Gnostic of us to think that the spiritual perfection where God dwells is completely distinct from the material earth?* And could it be that when the Bible speaks of the skies as the heavens, perhaps it's not merely symbolic?

We know that "now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known" (1 Cor. 13:12). Saint Paul prays that the Father of glory "may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your heart enlightened" (Eph. 1:17 -8). That is to say, there's a whole lot we cannot yet see or sense.

Our eyes can only pick up a narrow range of the total spectrum of electromagnetic radiation. Far from being able to see infrared, ultraviolet, microwaves, X rays, and the like, we base our realities on what we can see with the paltry assortment of rods and cones in our eyes. When the eyes of our hearts are regnerated, when our sin-plagued, mortal bodies are swallowed up by life (Rom. 8:18-25; 2 Cor. 5:1-5), we'll see so much more--all the deep, shimmering realities that yet lie hidden to our senses.

We also can't see gases, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. And when we can "see" them, it's only when the sky acts as a prism to refract certain wavelengths of the sun's light to us. How the skies appear depends on the angle and intensity of the sunlight reaching it. Illuminated by the very luminescence of God himself (Isa. 60:19-20; Rev. 22:5), will we see that the gases that fill the "heavens" are those same ones that we inhale every moment of our lives and that God turned out to be with us all along?

Now I don't mean to get all sappy or to throw out the Bible. But I sometimes wonder, what more is there? (Seriously, I need to get around to posting some quotes from C. S. Lewis' essay "Transposition"


*The philosophies of Manichaeism and Gnosticism arose out of the erroneous belief that matter was inherently corrupt and evil, as opposed to the good and pure immaterial spirit.

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